India’s flag

In a discussion on imperialism on Metafilter, someone said that the Indian flag had been patterned on the Irish tricolour, by way of solidarity between anti-imperialist national movements. I thought this sounded a bit odd, so did some research.

The Indian flag, image from Flags of the World

I’d always assumed the Indian flag was green for Muslims, orange for Hindus, chakra (wheel) for Buddhists and white for peace. Interestingly, though, that interpretation is specifically rejected in the official Flag Code, which reads:

“Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation of disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to soil, our relation to the plant life here on which all other life depends. The Ashoka Wheel in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principles of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change”

Nehru said, at the adoption of the flag:

“Some people, having misunderstood its significance, have thought of it in communal terms and believe that some part of it represents this community or that. But I may say that when this Flag was devised there was no communal significance attached to it.”

That’s me told.

Oh, and the discussion on Flags of the World mentions an Irish link in the original model of the flag – the red/white/green of the Indian National Congress.